Author(s): George D. Gopen and Judith A. Swan Source: American Scientist, Vol. 78, No. 6 (November-December ), pp. Published by: Sigma Xi. *Examples and explanations from Gopen, George D. and Judith A. Swan. “The Science Writing,” American Scientist 78, no.6 (November-December ): pp. Gopen, G.D, Swan J.A (). The Science of Scientific Writing. American Scientist Vol. 78 pgs. Add to My Bookmarks Export citation. Gopen, G.D .

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Without the stress position’s locational clue that its material is intended to be emphasized, readers are left too much to their own devices in deciding just what else in a sentence might be considered important.

None of these reader-expectation principles should be considered “rules. Place appropriate “old information” material already stated in gopn discourse in the topic position for linkage backward and contextualization forward.

First, there is a general inhibition of transcription that can be alleviated in zcientist by supplementation with high concentrations of RNA polymerase III. Place in the stress position the “new information” you want the reader to emphasize. Therefore, in first approximation, one may expect that large ruptures of the same fault segment will occur at approximately constant time intervals. The fundamental purpose of scientific discourse is not the mere presentation of information and thought, but rather its actual communication.

The very structure of the sentence thus helps persuade the reader of the relative values of the sentence’s contents.

The Science of Scientific Writing | American Scientist

We can distill the problem by looking closely at the information in each sentence’s topic position: We couch this discussion in terms of “likelihood” because we golen that meaning is not inherent in discourse by itself; “meaning” requires the combined participation of text and reader.

The longer the interruption lasts, the more likely it becomes that the “interruptive” material actually contains important information; but its structural location will continue to brand it as merely interruptive. View the discussion thread. Given just the material in the topic positions, no two readers would be likely to construct exactly the same story for the paragraph as a whole. As critical scientific readers, we would like to concentrate our energy on whether the experiments prove the hypotheses.

Bibliography Colomb, Gregory G. The material might conceivably be quite significant, in which case the writer should have positioned it to reveal that importance. This article was originally published amerkcan the November-December issue of American Scientist. This is surprising because the same concentration of TFIIIA does not limit transcription in the oocyte nuclear extract.


As a result, the reader focuses attention on the arrival of the verb and resists recognizing anything in the interrupting material as being of primary importance. Here is one version of what we think the authors meant to say, with two additional sentences supplied from a knowledge of nucleic acid chemistry:.

Here are two possibilities:. It seems the reader is hindered by more than just the scientific jargon. We have taken several passages from research articles either published or accepted for publication and have suggested ways of rewriting them by applying principles derived from the study of reader expectations. The information that begins a sentence establishes for the reader a perspective for viewing the sentence as a unit: Note qmerican subject-verb separation in the word third sentence of the original passage: The new, emphasis-worthy information appears in the stress position.

Follow a grammatical subject as soon as possible with its verb.

Writers who fail to put new information in the stress position of many sentences in one document are likely to repeat that unhelpful structural pattern in all other documents. Are the suggested choices of “however,” “indeed,” and “for example” the right ones to express the connections at those points?

After reading the second sentence, we expect to hear more about the two effects that were important enough to merit placement in its stress position. At this americcan, particularly astute readers who are chemists might draw upon their specialized knowledge, silently supplying the missing connection.

We do not start with the strawberry shortcake and work our way up to the broccoli.

A Summary of “The Science of Scientific Writing” — Lawrence A. Crowl

If the actions are not to be found in the verbs, then we as readers have no secondary structural clues for where to locate them. As a concomitant function, the principles simultaneously offer the writer a fresh re-entry to the thought process that produced the science. Zmerican have striven not for simplification but for clarification. The stress position coincides with the moment of syntactic closure. That choice was neither arbitrary nor born ecientist logical necessity; it was simply an act of interpretation.


But at least now we can recognize that the author has not explained the connection between “limit” and sientist. Place the person or thing whose “story” a gpen is telling at the beginning of the sentence, in the topic position.

Gopeen substance of science comprises more than the discovery and recording of data; it extends crucially to include the act of interpretation.

Since the interbase hydrogen bonds are the only bonds to form upon mixing, their enthalpy of formation can be determined directly by measuring the enthalpy of mixing. We never have to wander too far into a sentence without being told where we are and what former strands of discourse are being continued.

Science is often hard to read. A reader has reached the beginning of the stress position when she knows there is nothing left in the clause or sentence but the material presently being read.

A Summary of “The Science of Scientific Writing”

As communities of readers, however, we tend to work out tacit agreements as to what kinds of meaning are most likely to be extracted from certain articulations. We refer to san location as a “stress position. The enthalpy of hydrogen bond formation between the nucleoside bases 2’deoxyguanosine dG and 2’deoxycytidine dC has been determined by direct measurement. Since by definition all information is either old or new, the space between the topic position and the stress position must also be filled with old and new information.

It is a linguistic commonplace that readers naturally emphasize the material that arrives at the end of a sentence. Xcientist, it rarely appears at the scientiat of sentences, where it would help us maintain our focus on its continuing story.

Or is the author preparing us for a discussion of how in spite of such variance we might still be able to predict earthquakes? Those problems turn out to be only a small part of the difficulty. The rates at which tectonic plates move and accumulate strain at their boundaries are roughly uniform. This last question remains unanswered because the final sentence leaves behind earthquakes that recur at variable intervals and switches instead to earthquakes that recur regularly.